Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by onedomino, Mar 4, 2005.
I agree. Time for a bottle of bubbly, but like the warning, I'll hold off on the case until the war is won:
Whilst what has happened in the past week has been encouraging, it's important to have a look at what will be the wider results of any fully democratic elections in Saudi Arabia, Palestine or Lebanon. The end result will almost certainly bring to power largely anti-American and anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic) political parties, whether populist, nationalist or Islamist.
Whilst some members of the Arab intelligentsia see a correlation between events in Iraq and a desire for wider Middle East democratisation, an election in Lebanon will bring to power a coalition of parties hostile to Israel. The Maronites are a minority and any future coalition will be, essentially, a Muslim one that will pay lip service to the Palestinian struggle and - more importantly in this case - to Hizbollah, an organisation widely respected in Lebanon. In Saudi Arabia there is no politics outside of the royal court, aside from the Islamists. Any change there (and who knows we may have seen a start though I doubt it in reality) is going to have to be incremental. By all means we should isolate them and hold them as a security threat, but there is nothing sensible about provoking the accession of a far more hostile government that would use Mecca as a base.
I'm British and, unlike many of my compatriots, I am a supporter of much of US policy since 9/11 our my governments' role in this. However, we have to look at the Middle East soberly. Nothing is going to change overnight. What is happening in Iraq and Lebanon is still very, very much on the wire and getting carried away at this point is counterproductive. The work ahead will be immense - not just about the loss of US/UK and Middle Eastern lives but also about the careful promotion of liberal democracy in the Middle East (whilst keeping a close eye on nuclear proliferation). A large amount of this could be done through diplomacy and economic pressure - eg The EU with US support says to Syria - "You can have a free trade zone with us if you make peace with Israel and reform your governing institutions. We'll give you some money to cover welfare during austerity measures". A very crude example but worth a go, I think.
I agree that Iran is a different case precisely because of the nuclear proliferation issue. Surprisingly, in this case the differing EU and US policies make quite an effective good-cop, bad-cop route to diplomacy. But for the Arab world we should concentrate on rebuilding Iraq and take the rest a bit slower. Any talk of, say, invading Syria is downright silly.
The flypaper of Iraq is working...http://denbeste.nu/essays/strategic_overview.shtml
With all due respect I don't think the cornered aminal analogy stretches to issues of international relations. I think we need a more nuanced approach. But in the case of Iran I agree that a robust US policy is something we could be thankful for. Infiltration from Syria is a problem but, as you say, let them come to us. I'm not sure how many people are coming over from Iraq but I think any Farsi speaking guerillas would have caused headlines by now.
Well how close is Iran to obtaining the technology? I think the easiest way to judge this is by looking at Israeli policy. If nuclear capability in Iran was imminent then Israel would have already reacted. It's highly likely that US and Israeli intelligence is well embedded in Iran already and Israel does not pull its punches if things are getting really hot (eg the Iraqi nuclear powerplant in 81, or whenever that was). If they (and indeed probably Bush) had the slightest suspicion that Iran was about to obtain nuclear capability then a military offensive would occur. In the meantime I think the EU carrot and the US stick policy should continue.
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